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Social Innovation

Center for Social Innovation

Social Entrepreneurship

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James Gutierrez, MBA '05, discusses how he built Progreso Financiero, where he gets his best ideas, and the best advice he's ever received.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Afghan Woman]

Gayle Lemmon discusses how entrepreneurs conduct business in some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous environments.

Resource: News Article

Social entrepreneurs, those organizations and individuals who work to improve major social issues, don't have the networks and financial systems of traditional entrepreneurs, Sally Osberg, president of the Skoll Foundation told a Stanford MBA audience. Like Ginger Rogers dancing in a 1940's musical, they face the same issues as traditional entrepreneurs, but must do it backwards in high heels.

Resource: News Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2011

The moral legitimacy of a new market can come as much from how you sell something as from exactly what you’re selling.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2011

In August 2010 the US government closed ShoreBank, one of the country’s leading social enterprises. Why did ShoreBank fail? And what lessons can be learned from its 37-year record of innovation?

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article

James Gutierrez, MBA '05, discusses how he built Progreso Financiero, where he gets his best ideas, and the best advice he's ever received.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Afghan Woman]

Gayle Lemmon discusses how entrepreneurs conduct business in some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous environments.

Resource: News Article

Social entrepreneurs, those organizations and individuals who work to improve major social issues, don't have the networks and financial systems of traditional entrepreneurs, Sally Osberg, president of the Skoll Foundation told a Stanford MBA audience. Like Ginger Rogers dancing in a 1940's musical, they face the same issues as traditional entrepreneurs, but must do it backwards in high heels.

Resource: News Article

Jane Chen, MBA '08, is co-founder and CEO of Embrace, a nonprofit company dedicated to creating low-cost portable incubators to save the lives of low birthweight babies in developing countries. The Embrace infant warmer was launched in India in the spring of 2011 she told the annual Women in Management banquet at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Resource: News Article

Authors Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith explain how to harness the power of social media to achieve social change in their book The Dragonfly Effect.

Resource: News Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Winter 2011

Social network and professional network combined: a low-income neighborhood works together to meet the needs of the community in an environmentally responsible way.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2010

Social intrapreneurs—change agents already working deep within business—are the answer for business’s woes.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2010

Three types of leadership are needed to build a successful organization.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2010

With these seven levers, social entrepreneurs can foster change in everything from affordable housing to child welfare to poverty alleviation.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Fall 2010

Throughout history, acts of hatred have plagued communities and dominated media attention. The website Not In Our Town is working to combat that by broadcasting anti-hate stories and campaigns.

Resource: Stanford Social Innovation Review Article

Better practices in disaster relief involve market-orientated nonprofit organizations, or social-mission-orientated, for-profit companies, playing a more prominent role.

Resource: Blog Post

How do you assess the ability and willingness of the poor to pay for products and services that do not already exist, and how do you convince companies to take a risk on such a vast and fragmented market?

Resource: Blog Post

Let’s keep holding the government accountable.

Resource: Blog Post

Using existing microfinance institutions and recent developments in the carbon credit markets on the supply side to facilitate the adoption of clean energy for the very poor.

Resource: Blog Post

Foundations, listen up: Venture capital firms are making it easier than ever for entrepreneurs to get seed money.

Resource: Blog Post
Video/Audio : All | Audio | Video
[photo - Towera Jalakasi]

Towera Jalakasi is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. Despite her success, she still faces an uphill battle as a female entrepreneur in Africa, where the glass ceiling has yet to give way. In a business environment where women are constantly questioned on their ability to lead and have difficulty accessing traditional funding sources, Towera is a beacon of hope and a confident leader articulating a vision of success. In this Social Disruptor podcast, Towera speaks with Ned Breslin about what it takes to be a successful and innovative entrepreneur in Africa.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Lesley Marincola]

In East Africa, 80% of the population lives off the grid and often has to use kerosene fuel for lighting. Lesley Marincola, CEO of Angaza Design, argues that the high retail prices of energy and electric products in developing markets are to blame. In this audio interview, Marincola talks with Stanford Center for Social Innovation correspondent Sheela Sethuraman about how Angaza’s extreme affordability model helps tackle energy poverty in emerging markets.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Pamela Ronald]

Working through social enterprise in improving and securing crop yield, especially rice, scientists have enabled farmers in India and Bangladesh to feed their families and earn a profit from their surplus. In this audio interview, Pamela Ronald, of the University of California, Davis, talks with Stanford Center for Social Innovation correspondent Sheela Sethuraman about how her laboratory, in collaboration with other scientists, developed a variety of rice with sufficient submergence tolerance to survive severe flooding.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Cameron Conaway]

In the nonprofit world, people talk about the importance of failure so often it has become cliché. Failure as a way to learn from your mistakes and improve your work. As a former Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter, Cameron Conaway knows a lot about failure and the value of confronting fear and risk head on, literally. At the same time, Cameron also knows the importance of reflecting and pivoting to become more successful – and he has used that understanding to not only win fights but to write powerful poetry. In this podcast, Ned Breslin speaks with the MMA fighter and poet about this difficult balance and how you know when it’s time to “tap out” of the fight.

Resource: Audio
[photo - John Kehoe]

TCHO, a chocolate factory in San Francisco, uses chocolate production to encourage social entrepreneurship in developing countries. In this short audio lecture, John Kehoe, VP of Sourcing and Development at TCHO, discusses the company’s complex supply chain from grower to store. Through the company’s partnership program TCHOSource, TCHO utilizes technology and innovation to work with its sourcing cooperatives around the world. The goal is to improving the growers’ livelihoods and craft while increasing quality, productivity, and sustainability.

Resource: Audio
[Video-Fill Classrooms with Committed Teachers]

Teach For America places thousands of energetic and committed college graduates as teachers in under-resourced schools for their first jobs. Founder Wendy Kopp shares why and how she started the organization in 1980, and the progress Teach For America has been making ever since.

Resource: Video
[Video-Stanford's Guatemala Service Learning Trip, 2008-9]

There Must Be a Better Way: "We saw their coffee operation. ... Individuals picked through their coffee beans to get the high premium quality beans. ... It made you think: There MUST be a better way," says Tom Mercer, Class of '09, of his experience in Guatemala.

Resource: Video
[Video-The Next Social Leaders]

Social entrepreneur veteran Laura Scher and more recent entrants, Kirsten Gagnaire and Jenny Shilling Stein, offer advice on what it takes to create a successful for-profit or nonprofit organization with a social purpose. 

Resource: Video
[Video-What Does It Take to Get Off the Ground?]

Have you ever thought about launching your own social venture? This panel discussion brings together people from both sides of the "start-up" fence—those who started with large financial backing and those who had none.

Resource: Video
[Video-Reducing Global Poverty]

From  disease control to global climate change, innovative business people are designing sustainable solutions to promote international development and reduce global poverty. Hear how this is happening from leaders in the field.

Resource: Video
[photo - Marina Gorbis]

Modern technology empowers individuals to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. In this audio lecture, Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future, discusses “socialstructing” — generating small contributions from each person in a wide network to accomplish large tasks, such as the creation of a global collection of crime-related data. Gorbis describes socialstructing as an alternative to some types of formal organizations in the future.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Daniel Spitzer]

Operating a successful social enterprise requires providing meaningful economic value to people. In this audio lecture, Daniel Spitzer, founder of Mountain Hazelnuts, describes his experience creating supply chain value to develop a hazelnut farming social enterprise in Bhutan. Spitzer details how he enhances supply chains through corporate citizenship, and leverages data captured from Android phones. Spitzer describes why there is nothing is more important than people in operating a profitable business through corporate social responsibility.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Dara O'Rourke]

Social innovations in the supply chain have the potential for making an impact on a large scale. In this panel discussion, experts describe innovations that are benefiting society and delivering economic value, including responsible e-waste recycling efforts that generate revenue, innovative methods to end child labor in the carpet industry, and more.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Towera Jalakasi]

Towera Jalakasi is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word. Despite her success, she still faces an uphill battle as a female entrepreneur in Africa, where the glass ceiling has yet to give way. In a business environment where women are constantly questioned on their ability to lead and have difficulty accessing traditional funding sources, Towera is a beacon of hope and a confident leader articulating a vision of success. In this Social Disruptor podcast, Towera speaks with Ned Breslin about what it takes to be a successful and innovative entrepreneur in Africa.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Lesley Marincola]

In East Africa, 80% of the population lives off the grid and often has to use kerosene fuel for lighting. Lesley Marincola, CEO of Angaza Design, argues that the high retail prices of energy and electric products in developing markets are to blame. In this audio interview, Marincola talks with Stanford Center for Social Innovation correspondent Sheela Sethuraman about how Angaza’s extreme affordability model helps tackle energy poverty in emerging markets.

Resource: Audio
Case Studies : All | Academic Cases
No Results Found
[photo - AdaptAir]

In resource constrained settings, bubble CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is emerging as a more affordable treatment option for children with acute respiratory infections. However, some healthcare providers cannot ensure a tight seal between the infant's nose and mask which compromises the effectiveness of this approach. AdaptAir team developed a silicone adapter as a potential low-cost alternative. Despite the new product, AdaptAir encountered challenges when attempting to commercialize the device in the market. This case explores the challenges AdaptAir faced in determining its next steps and the lessons the teams learned about creating an accessory versus a stand-alone product.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Consure Medical I]

After watching a colleague struggle with the care of his mother when she was affected by fecal incontinence, the Consure Medical team began investigating this problem as a potential need to address. Even though the team had a broad concept of the need it would address, they soon realized it would require more research to make the need actionable. This case study looks at how the Consure team determined which market to address and how challenges in design requirements to aid product development. 

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - Consure Medical II]

Consure Medical is committed to developing a solution that involves the problems inherent in existing fecal incontinence treatments yet is simple enough for a motivated family member to use. With guidance from top doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the team developed an indwelling device similar to a short-term implant that offered multiple advantages over available treatment options. With a working product in hand, the cofounders’ next challenge was to determine a testing strategy that would validate the safety and efficacy of the device and support the company’s regulatory strategy. This mini-case study looks at the factors Consure Medical considered in defining a plan, as well as the approach the company ultimately defined.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - PSI]

Population Services International (PSI) was founded in 1970 as a nonprofit organization focused on improving reproductive health in developing countries using commercial marketing strategies. As part of ongoing efforts to provide critical health services in developing countries, PSI sought to address the high unmet demand for family planning in Pakistan. PSI learned that the financial incentives were low and that few providers actually had the training to counsel clients. The case study describes how PSI devised and implemented a social franchising model to rapidly address these needs and achieve scale in the target communities.

Resource: Academic Case
[photo - LifeStraw]

Vestergaard Frandsen (VF) is a for-profit company that operates under a humanitarian entrepreneurship business model. The company’s leading products include PermaNet long-lasting insecticidal nets and LifeStraw water filters. VF was convinced that its LifeStraw Family product could make an immediate and significant difference in addressing the safe water needs of households in developing countries. The challenge was how to make it affordable for its target audience. While VF considered its options, CEO Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen decided to launch an integrated campaign to help prevent the spread of malaria, diarrheal disease, and HIV in Western Kenya.Witnessing the success of the program, the Kenyan government asked VF to scale it up across the Western Province. However, identifying traditional forms of funding for point-of-use water filters at scale remained a challenge.

Resource: Academic Case
Research Papers : All
[photo -  J. Gregory Dees]

This seminal paper defines the term social entrepreneurship and helps shape, what was in 1998, the nascent field of social entrepreneurship.

Resource: Research Paper
Courses : All
[photo - Jennifer Aaker]

The goal of this seminar is to investigate how social technology (e.g., blogs, websites, podcasts, widgets, community groups, social network feeds) can change attitudes and behaviors in ways that cultivate social change. We study the strategies and tactics used by companies and causes that have successfully catalyzed social persuasion.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Rick Aubry]

This course focuses on the efforts of private citizens to create effective responses to social needs and innovative solutions to social problems. It equips students with frameworks and tools that will help them be more effective as a social entrepreneur.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Jane Wei]

This course explores the challenges and opportunities related to social entrepreneurship. Students study nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid organizational forms, and examine issues from a variety of perspectives, including that of entrepreneur, CEO, funder, and board member.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Jim Patell]

Students apply engineering and business skills to design product prototypes, distribution systems, and business plans for entrepreneurial ventures in developing countries. The aim is to address challenges faced by the world's poor.

Resource: MBA Course
[photo - Debra Meyerson]

This course is designed to help students understand and manage human systems, exercise leadership, and work effectively with other people, specifically within the context of culturally diverse groups and organizations. The underlying premise is that diversity can present unique challenges and opportunities.

Resource: MBA Course
Innovators : All
[photo - Federico Lozano]

Federico Lozano is working to alleviate poverty by connecting poor, semi-skilled laborers from the developing world with jobs in the developed world.

Resource: Fellow

Robert Keith and Carl Palmer are restoring and protecting ecologically important properties in the West. They're earning market-rate returns for their effort.

Resource: Alumni

Sam Goldman is bringing cutting-edge technologies to rural families all over the world. His passionate goal is to help them improve their standard of living.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Peter Hero]

Peter Hero has been helping philanthropists make a social impact for two decades. He's now inspiring students to get involved in social entrepreneurship.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Katherine Boas]

Katherine Boas created the Barefoot MBA curriculum with her classmate Scott Raymond while a student in the Stanford MBA program. Her ambition? To teach the world’s poorest entrepreneurs the basic business skills they need to make better decisions with their microloans.

Resource: Alumni
[photo - Julie Dixon]

Personal connections and influence can be crucial in garnering support for an organization’s cause. In this audio lecture, Julie Dixon of Georgetown University’s Center for Social Impact Communication describes how organizations can leverage supporters’ talent, resources, and participation through meaningful engagement. She suggests that organizations craft opportunities and social media policies that allow people to support a cause in the best way they can.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Marina Gorbis]

Modern technology empowers individuals to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. In this audio lecture, Marina Gorbis, executive director of the Institute for the Future, discusses “socialstructing” — generating small contributions from each person in a wide network to accomplish large tasks, such as the creation of a global collection of crime-related data. Gorbis describes socialstructing as an alternative to some types of formal organizations in the future.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Jake Harriman]

Jake Harriman,'08, explains how rejecting conventional wisdom about financing a nonprofit helped him turn his vision into a real intervention.

Resource: News Article
[photo - Daniel Spitzer]

Operating a successful social enterprise requires providing meaningful economic value to people. In this audio lecture, Daniel Spitzer, founder of Mountain Hazelnuts, describes his experience creating supply chain value to develop a hazelnut farming social enterprise in Bhutan. Spitzer details how he enhances supply chains through corporate citizenship, and leverages data captured from Android phones. Spitzer describes why there is nothing is more important than people in operating a profitable business through corporate social responsibility.

Resource: Audio
[photo - Dara O'Rourke]

Social innovations in the supply chain have the potential for making an impact on a large scale. In this panel discussion, experts describe innovations that are benefiting society and delivering economic value, including responsible e-waste recycling efforts that generate revenue, innovative methods to end child labor in the carpet industry, and more.

Resource: Audio
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